Sidewalk Nature (vacant lot)

Our dog walk took us to the vacant lot again. Every visit rewards us with new things to notice. Today the new things were new seeds (a sudden green ash windfall) and new graffiti:


seeds from the green ashes that grow behind the dumpster

Mounds of green-velvet moss are spreading atop the broken asphalt. This the same moss I see in sidewalk seams and concrete curbs and along step risers. Is it only in urban settings? The merest nudge will dislodge it from its substrate, which in our vacant lot is just a fine grit. It’s almost as if it grows on air.

someone has trimmed the grass since last time

Robins drink from puddles, and the big splashes reflect the cellphone tower over by the storm sewer.


The lot fronts 21st Avenue, which is the primest of prime real estate here. Strange that it’s been vacant so long. It used to be a hideous office building sided with fake river-rock —styrofoam blobs would fall off from time to time—but we are sure it is doomed to become another mixed-use, full-footprint behemoth that will add traffic and commuters and bad drainage and . . .

But for now, it’s a Welcome Open Space.
And despite No Trespassing signs,
neighborhood kids play ball and ride bikes.
Skateboarders make ramps from trash.
Naturalists poke the rubble to see what’s thriving. (There’s gorgeous butterweed in spring, stretching right out of a crack.)

And just this week I’ve realized it’s a great place to look at stars. Our old, streetcar suburb does not lend itself to wide, celestial vistas: the streets are narrow and lined with lights. And our tiny backyards are flooded with security beams.
So, two nights ago I stood on this pavement and looked up and up and stared as long as I wished at Orion and Sirius and the Twins, and never once had to get out of the way of a car or dogwalker or scooter-renter. I almost laid right down on the asphalt but didn’t want anyone to think I was dead, which has happened.


hackberry trees
algae, rubble and the trashiest of plants: bush honeysuckle

Not everyone loves the vacancy of a vacant lot. The neighborhood listserve grumbles about it regularly. And some law-abiding person keeps painting out the graffiti, but so far, I’ve liked all the designs and stencils.

But here’s a little mystery:
Someone created cup art graffiti in the chainlink, but none of us can figure what the figure is.
Can you?


2 thoughts on “Sidewalk Nature (vacant lot)

  1. Yes, I understand about not being able to see the stars. I live on a heavily wooded lot that I love so much. My neighborhood is also heavily wooded, lots of big, mature trees. The only downside is I can’t see the sky, even in winter. Ok two downsides maybe: they topple on houses during hurricanes. I still love the big trees, though.
    Funny about lying down on the asphalt and being mistaken for dead or injured. That happens to me quite frequently:)

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